Thursday, March 18, 2010


My review of HIVE3 is in this week's WE.

Theatre Replacement’s S.P.A.M.

Theatre Replacement’s S.P.A.M.

Credit: supplied

STAGE: HIVE returns with eclecticism intact

It might seem like something as cool and fun as HIVE, the annual independent-theatre showcase now in its third year, belongs in a larger and more cosmopolitan city, like Montreal or Berlin. What Vancouver has done to deserve it, who knows? But I, for one, am appropriately grateful. HIVE3, which launched March 11 and continues through to the 20th, offers the same ambitious set-up as in previous years: a continuous rotation of site-specific theatre installations, all under 10 minutes, from 12 different local, independent companies. The individual productions never fail to surprise, with bursts of creativity on display no matter which way you turn. Here are some highlights from my first go-round.

Boca del Lupo’s sobering and sad meditation about a journalist who struggles with survivor’s guilt after a tour of duty as a foreign correspondent. It’s wisely crafted, intimate, and offers food for thought on the experiences most of us take for granted.

An audience-participation fest that needed better microphones on the night I saw it, but that features a fun twist on the act of drunk-dialing. Two members from Theatre Replacement sit at small desks with martinis and a list of phone numbers from audience members, each of whom have agreed to be phoned and asked live questions (which cover a range of embarrassing topics, like first kisses). It’s lighter fare than some of the other pieces, but it’s damn fun.

Easily the strangest experience I had at HIVE3 was witnessing the collaboration between Theatre Conspiracy and Gasheart Theatre. Its three actors — loosely representing father, mother, and child — were given the hardest task of the night, tackling a squirrely script, laden with subtext and metaphor, that alternately lambastes and celebrates Canadian icons and nationalistic fervour, and also finds time to address subjects such as cupcakes, sexism, and physical abuse.

November Theatre presented one of the loveliest moments of the evening with a nostalgic trip down memory lane that romanticizes the vinyl LP over digital music. A solo performance that commands the audience’s attention.

Pi Theatre accomplishes something incredible, crafting one of the rawest, most compellingly emotional pieces of theatre to grace any Vancouver stage this year. That it lasts a mere 10 minutes, at most, is the icing on the cake. Wearing headphones, the audience is entirely immersed in a push-pull war of words between a married couple, and a third party who sings the soundtrack to their possibly unravelling existence.

HIVE virgins should note that the evening, which features the theatre components from 7-10:30 p.m., and various indie bands every evening starting at 11 p.m., is an exercise in organized chaos. Planning to see every event? Schedule your attendance to spread out over the remaining three nights, because gaining entrance to the show of your choice isn’t really your choice at all. (For example, Electric Company holds draws about every 30 to 60 minutes to determine which people get to view their work — one person at a time.) Gaining entrance to many of the spectacles is a crapshoot, but almost everything you hit is worthwhile.

HIVE3 continues to March 20 at the Centre for Digital Media (577 Great Northern Way). Tickets $20-$25 from 604-629-8849. Cover for bands only (after 10 p.m.), $5. Info:

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